16 Types Of Customer Needs (And How To Solve Them)
Every company can be broadly categorized into two parts: people who work on the product and people who work on selling the product. Customers are the greatest - and often the only - source of revenue for a business. Satisfied customers can have a multiplier effect - they become strong advocates for your brand and bring in additional revenue through new customers. The first step to getting a happy customer is to understand what makes them happy in the first place. In this blog, we identify the most common types of customer needs and how you can fulfill them.
What are customer needs?
A customer need is something that motivates them to choose a product and use it. In Clayton Christensen’s famous JTBD (Job To Be Done) framework, a customer doesn’t purchase a product, they hire the product to fulfill a job for them. Customers may or may not be aware of the needs that drive them to choose a product or be satisfied with it. However, customer-centric companies need to have a good understanding of their customer needs so they can work towards meeting them.
In most customer support teams, meeting a customer’s need is often defined as how many customer tickets were resolved. But if a customer has to raise a ticket, then that’s already half the battle lost. Proactively solving for customer needs means that the customer doesn’t have to run into an issue that they have to flag.
Type of customer needs
Customers have certain expectations from the product and another set of expectations from the customer service a company provides. Solving for both these types of customer needs requires bringing visibility of the customer to every department - not just front-facing teams, but also back-end teams like engineering and product.
1. Quality: The most basic customer need is for a functional product. Your product must be stable, reliable, and easy to use. It needs to offer functionalities that solve a specific pain point in a way that other substitute products cannot.
2. Price: Customers need a product that justifies the cost of purchasing it. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should compete on price as it can often become a race to the bottom. Instead, your product’s pricing strategy should align with the target audience you’re going after. It should also reflect the true value that the product can offer to customers.
3. Ease-of-use: The steeper the learning curve, the higher the chance of customers feeling frustrated and dropping off. Ease of use is usually associated with B2C products, but today, developing consumer-grade products is just as important in B2B. A product that encourages higher adoption is intuitive to use and simple to operate.
4. Capability: Products can be broken down into a set of capabilities. For example, the capabilities of a phone include making calls, sending messages, and taking pictures. The capabilities that your product offers need to align with your customer’s requirements.
DevRev has a unique feature called Trails that displays your entire product hierarchy. It breaks your product down into a set of Capabilities and Features that make up that capability. You can view all customer tickets raised under each Capability to understand how well your product is meeting the needs of your customers.
5. Compatibility: How well does your product play with other products your customers may already be using? As the world gets more interconnected, products that can work seamlessly with each other are becoming increasingly important.
6. Performance: Customers expect speed and stability from a product. This means minimal downtime, bugs, and crashes. Products that consistently perform well can lead to long-term customer satisfaction and loyalty.
7. Convenience: Customers don’t want to have to jump through hoops to discover and consume your product. They are looking for products that are accessible, reduce friction, and improve their lives in some way.
8. Reliability: Customers need to feel like they can depend on a product. This means that the product should consistently deliver on its promises, with minimal disruptions.
9. Efficiency: Does your product allow customers to do more with less time and effort? Customers value products that help them make more efficient use of their time or simplify their routines.
Customer Needs in Services
1. Availability: Customers expect to be able to reach support whenever they run into a problem. This doesn’t necessarily mean your support team has to work round-the-clock. Technology like GPT-powered chatbots can provide human-like assistance without requiring human input.
2. Options: Your customers should be able to reach you on whichever platform they prefer. This could be through email, website chat, social media, etc. Providing multiple support channels can help you provide greater convenience to your customers.
3. Information: No one wants to be put on hold. Customers expect reliable and accurate information to guide them and they don’t want to wait for it. Providing transparency and informative content can help build trust among your customers.
4. Control: Customers value having control over their support interactions. They want to be able to respond on their own time, have visibility of the status of their ticket, and be able to escalate issues if they feel it’s not being resolved.
5. Honesty: Most times, a simple honest apology can pacify even the most irate customer. Businesses that are transparent with their customers, admit mistakes and offer clear steps for resolution can build greater trust and credibility.
6. Fairness: Customers expect fairness, both in terms of how they are treated and the price they are paying for a product. Hidden costs can immediately sour relationships. In some SaaS companies, for example, customers might expect to pay only the stated cost for a product. However, additional integrations, service charges, and essential features can add up and increase the cost of ownership.
7. Understanding: Your support team might be interacting with hundreds or thousands of customers each day, but each customer expects personalized treatment. A support tool that captures the entire customer history and serves as a single system of record can help your support team provide service that shows your customers that they are valued.
An understanding of these sixteen types of customer service needs will help you tailor your support strategy to align with customer expectations.
How to Meet Your Customers' Needs
Identifying customer needs is just the first step of the journey. To truly build a relationship with your customers, you need to be able to meet these needs better than your competitors. Here are five strategies to do this.
1. Choose the right customer support solution
Your customer support team is only as good as their tools. The culture of customer support in an organization is very much driven by the support solution. Tools that enforce too many processes, make collaboration difficult, and do not provide complete visibility of the customer can get in the way of your support team servicing customers.
At DevRev, we believe that exceptional customer service requires teams across the board to come together and solve customer problems. This is why, the DevRev Support app provides a complete history of customer conversations, allows agents to seamlessly loop in product and engineering teams in support tickets, and provides real-time updates to customers about their ticket status.
2. Invest in AI and automation
Faster response times are strongly correlated with high CSAT scores. With traditional support tools, ensuring quick response times meant onboarding more agents to handle growing customer bases. However, this approach isn’t scalable. With advances in AI, businesses can now deliver faster customer support while still maintaining a small support team. GPT-driven chatbots, like DevRev’s PLuG chatbot, can provide human-like assistance to customers round-the-clock. These chatbots can scrape your website to create a knowledge base of articles to respond to customer queries. Human support agents are only looped in when the bot is unable to resolve a query.
3. Get to know who your customer is
Customers value personalized support. They want companies to know their purchase history, previous support conversations, and details of their account. Your support team should not have to spend valuable time having to gather this information from customers. The support solution your team uses should be able to store your entire customer history so agents can retrieve it whenever they need to.
4. Be ahead of your customers' needs
The best kind of support is when a customer never has to raise a ticket in the first place. Companies should become so good at monitoring usage and predicting trends that they can resolve an issue before a customer even notices an error. Using AI, companies can analyze data to uncover historic trends and also understand common issues that customers raise. This will inform product teams on what product enhancements need to be made to prevent similar tickets from being raised in the future.
Identifying and solving these common customer needs can go a long way in helping you build a loyal customer base. Product innovation often gets the most focus to help brands stand out, but customer support can also be a major differentiator for companies. Creating tight feedback loops between customer feedback and product enhancements can help your company be truly customer-centric.